King highlights democracy and education in New Year address to politicians

King Philippe addressed the country’s federal and regional politicians at a New Year address on Tuesday morning. Ahead of the elections being held this year, he spoke of the importance of democracy. 

“We know that our democracy, though complex, remains our most precious asset. The one on which the state can and must build to provide citizens with an environment in which they can thrive and face the future with confidence,” he said. 

The address this year took place in Laeken, as the palace in Brussels is being renovated.

“Two important appointments with democracy are on the agenda in Belgium this year,” he said. “I cherish the hope that we can unite around renewed ambitions and common projects in which all the authorities in our country play their part in a spirit of consensus.”

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He focused on artificial intelligence, which will have a profound impact on education, employment, healthcare and innovation, he said: “In the very short term, it will come down to making users of artificial intelligence – and in fact we all are – aware of what it means. But it is also the responsibility of governments, with the support of Europe, to provide a proper framework for these developments.”

Another ambition is to strengthen social cohesion. “Too many families still live in unhealthy homes that consume too much energy and lack basic amenities, sometimes not even having running water,” he said. “We must put an end to these conditions as soon as possible.”

Finally, he highlighted the importance of education. “Communities have already initiated important reforms to our education systems. Even if it takes time and resources, investing in education remains the best bet for the future.” 


King Philippe speaking during a New Year reception for the Belgian federal and regional authorities, at the palace of Laeken on 30 January 2024 © BELGA PHOTO BENOIT DOPPAGNE

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